The head of the Victorian Legal Services Board has initiated a complaint and investigation into the conduct of a lawyer engaged to assist Aboriginal woman Veronica Nelson, who died in custody.
- Coroner Simon McGregor described the legal services Melbourne barrister Tass Antos provided Veronica Nelson as “inadequate”
- Ms Nelson died in a prison cell after being refused bail in 2020
- The Victorian Legal Service says it accepts the Coroner’s recommendation on the need for mandated cultural awareness training for lawyers
NOTE: The family of Veronica Nelson has been granted permission to use her name and image.
Melbourne barrister Tass Antos was engaged by the Law and Advocacy Center for Women to assist Ms Nelson after she was arrested for shoplifting-related offences.
The 37-year-old Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman died alone in her cell in a Melbourne prison on January 2, 2020.
Ms Nelson had represented herself in court at a hearing where she was refused bail in the days before her death, which coroner Simon McGregor described as “preventable”.
Handing down his findings in January, Coroner McGregor criticized Mr Antos, describing the legal service he provided as “inadequate”.
In a statement, the Victorian Legal Services Board commissioner and CEO, Fiona McLeay, said calls to investigate Mr Antos’ legal conduct came after Coroner McGregor’s findings.
“As the regulator of the legal profession in Victoria, we believe everyone who exercises their basic right to have legal representation should also receive an appropriate standard of legal service,” Ms McLeay said.
“I have initiated a complaint and investigation of my own motion into the conduct of lawyer Tass Antos, following the finding by Coroner McGregor that the legal services he provided to